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From MSP Post to Postgame: Lieutenants Return to the (Football) Field
September 21, 2023
While fans are settling into another season, Lt. Tedric Gibbs has been fully immersed in football for months. The Jackson Post’s assistant post commander serves as assistant coach for Jackson High School’s varsity football team and for the team at Parkside Middle School.
“I started coaching when my older son was in youth sports, as a way to do something together that we both love,” said Lieutenant Gibbs. “My younger son followed the same path, so I joined his team too. I grew up in Jackson and am grateful to be able to serve my hometown from the sidelines and at our post.”
Some 400 miles north, Lt. Mark Giannunzio is also a familiar face in and on the field. The Negaunee Post assistant post commander and Eighth District Public Information Officer enforces the rules of the game as a high school and college football official.
“I started at the high school level to stay involved in athletics and make authentic connections in the community,” said Lieutenant Giannunzio. “It’s rewarding to help teach the game and share knowledge of the rules. I currently have a full 11 game schedule in the GLIAC Division 2 college conference, with high school games interspersed during the year.”
The correlation among coaching, officiating and policing translates.
“With my fellow troopers, I want to inspire, motivate and encourage to get the most out of them,” said Lieutenant Gibbs. “I take the same approach with my players to figure out what they need from me, as their designated leader, to be as successful as they can. In both capacities, I do the work alongside them. We do it together.”
This approach is especially important when tough times surface. Lieutenant Gibbs’ high school team experienced tragedy right before their first game when a player was killed in a car crash.
“We focused on adversity,” said Lieutenant Gibbs, who was in a unique position to talk from a police perspective too. “It’s a benefit to have that insight and background and share it with what they can control - make good decisions and wear your seatbelt.”
Lieutenant Gibbs incorporates his coworkers when he can, like during spring conditioning when fellow troopers join him and his players, helping all involved to make new connections and build strong bonds between the students and officers.
“One of the most important attributes in both careers is communication,” said Lieutenant Giannunzio. “Communication can make or break an official and a police officer. Much like selling a citation to a motorist, I need to be able to sell the penalty in a calm and professional manner. Demeanor and attitude go together on both the football field and when we are out patrolling in the Blue Goose.”
Treating everyone with dignity and respect is something Lieutenants Gibbs and Giannunzio commit to as members of a modern police agency and in their areas of expertise on the football field.
“Both roles afford so many opportunities to develop culture and cultivate teamwork,” said Lieutenant Gibbs. “The best part is watching others flourish and playing a part in their growth.”